Written by Anja Eisenberg and Maxine Smeets
This week, between the 13th and the 18th of February, five different countries met in Norway: Belgium, Croatia, Norway, Romania and Turkey. Each country was represented by 6 people and all of them separated to work in three different groups: A tourist guide group, a news agency and an entrepreneur group. We decided to interview two people from each country to get an insight on how they all experienced this exchange program.
On which aspects of your life will this week have an effect?
Turkey: Companies want you to have experience so being part of an international project is certainly an advantage. It also changed the way I look at our school system, this is a total different way to learn and I like that! This learning method can be applied to life.
Romania: I learn here to interact more with people even though we come from total different countries, I hope I’ll be less shy after this mobility week. I learnt here how to cope better with stress and realized how much a real accountant must struggle for his job. I think this week expanded my knowledge more than I could ever imagine.
Croatia: This mobility week was a great opportunity to make long-distance friendships, I also worked on self-development, language, social skills and practical experience. It gave me insight on negotiation.
Norway: I think the mobility has really helped me to get an insight on the business life and have more knowledge on the different business branches. It also really helped me be more comfortable speaking English and be more open minded towards other people.
Belgium: I learned how to work together with people, and I learned how difficult it is to come to an agreement with a big group, I also liked to interact with the other countries.
“I think this week expanded my knowledge more than I could ever imagine.”
Did you recognize any cultural differences?
Turkey: Yes, everyone is so kind here. In the Turkish public transportation, everyone is pushing and trying to get a place and here they offer it to each other. Another difference is of course the food, we eat more and drink more tea. I like to get to know things like this.
Croatia: I noticed that the Turkish people didn’t eat pork. Also the perception of time-management was different for every country, some people just valued time more than others. I really like seeing the differences to develop open-mindedness.
” It changed me as a person but not the way I think about my country.”
Did your vision about your country change?
Turkey: No not really. It is my first time abroad. I love to meet different people, they all have a different story, I get new views of life. So it changed me as a person but not the way I think about my country.
Croatia: I saw how the Norwegians are allowed to use their mobile devices during class and amongst other things. I’m jealous of the classrooms and the working atmospheres. I think our country could learn a lot from the other countries.
Belgium: Belgium is way less modern and is stricter, we are not allowed to use computers during classes. Norway is more free and better prepared for college because of their freedom thus responsibility.
What did you learn this week?
Romania: How to negotiate and work in groups is one of the most important things I learned.
Norway: I learned how to promote on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and how fast you need be as a reporter to get to the scene where things happened. And we learned how to cooperate with other people in larger groups and how to adapt myself towards others.
Belgium: I saw a lot of electric cars, even the taxi drivers were driving in Tesla’s and cars like that. I believe we in Belgium should really start doing that more as well.
Do you have an anecdote from this week to tell?
Turkey: When we were on the bus there was a girl that looked really sad and we decided to cheer her up. So we told her that she was beautiful and that if she would smile she would look even more beautiful and then she started smiling.
Croatia: Before we arrived in Trondheim, they closed the gate in Frankfurt 20 minutes early so we had to re-book the flight. We had to split up so one group of us went to Stockholm and the other part went to Denmark. So at last we arrived in Trondheim at 3 am, and we had to be ready to leave to the school at 8:15 am.
Belgium: When we took the bus from the airport to the hotel one of the girls asked the driver what ‘Thank you’ means in Norway and the driver said ‘takk’ but the way he pronounced it is the thing we use to mimic the sound of a chicken in Belgium. Later on in the bus our teacher was talking about how thankful our chicken are for the grains they get, always saying: thank you, thank you, thank you.
“I learnt to adapt myself towards others.”
How is it to be the host?
Norway: It is an interesting experience to be a host to so many students. But we did have a big responsibility showing everyone around town and bringing them everywhere. It was quite a hassle having to pick everyone up from the hotel.
What will be remembered about the Belgians, Croatians, Romanians, Norwegians and Turkish people by all the countries?
Turkey: That they are friendly and polite, they have a weird language and the names are hard to pronounce.
Romania: That they are very polite and quiet, but they work hard.
Croatia: That they are very disciplined and hard-working and they are also very helpful.
Norway: The Norwegians are very talkative, social and open-minded.
Belgium: Belgians are also open-minded, kind, amicable and friendly
At the end of the interview we asked everyone what they missed most from their own country, this question was hard for them to answer. Of course they all missed their friends and family but there were also some that mentioned the food and the way of transportation, this all is nothing in comparison with what they love about Norway. They all said they will miss the nice people they have met and the unbelievable view of this charming city.
For this interview we thank: Lorena Brasnic and Tin Rogina (Croatia), Tim Uitdewilgen (Belgium), Ionut Sopon and Irina Chiriac (Romania), Tion Nguyen Tran and Adrian Evensen Østby (Norway), Ali Arif Kilinç and Ayşenur Kurtuluş (Turkey)